If you have been injured on the property of a business, be it a hotel, apartment complex, restaurant or store, as a result of a criminal act of a third party, then you may have a claim for inadequate or negligent security. Negligent security claims or premises security liability refers to civil liability for the harm to a person imposed on owners or operators of businesses for the foreseeable criminal act of a third person.
Unfortunately, the failure to have adequate security results in devastating and life changing events for the victims of these crimes. The most significant injuries are often not physical, but the emotional and psychological impact of being the victim of a violent crime. In Georgia, crime victims may recover against negligent property owners for not only their physical injuries and medical expenses, but also for the mental and emotional injuries they suffer from these crimes.
Inadequate security claims have become the fastest growing area of tort liability. Rape and sexual assault account for the majority of these claims. However, claims may be made for any criminal act, including, but not limited to, murder, robbery, burglary or assault.
Liability for inadequate or negligent security is premised on the question of foreseeability. Property owners are required to take the risk of crime into consideration when managing the day-to-day affairs of their businesses. Thus, they have some duty to be aware of criminal activity on their premises, and to take measures to protect against crime. The general rule is that property owners must be aware of the risk or should have been aware of the risk before they must take adequate measures to prevent it. For instance, if there have been a significant number of similar crimes on or near the property, then the property owner may be held liable for failing to take appropriate measures to protect against the known criminal activity. Even if the property owner is unaware of these crimes, they may be held liable if they failed to act reasonably to learn about criminal activity on or near their property or business.
The duties of a property owner generally fall into three categories in this area: administrative, interior security and external security. First, owners should have an adequate system for reporting and collecting data about criminal activity on the premises. Owners should have a security policy and procedure in place. They should pre-screen employees and adequately train and supervise employees.
Based on the amount of security required, owners may have an obligation to maintain locks, keep control of master keys and spare keys, control building access, install security systems and maintain adequate interior lighting. Finally, owners should have some control over access to their premises, maintain adequate exterior lighting in parking areas and access areas, control overgrown foliage and, if necessary, hire exterior security personnel. Liability often results when the property owner does not have an awareness of the crime risks or ignores the evidence of crime, and then does not integrate a security practice into the everyday management of the facility.
Due to the time limitations for pursuing claims of inadequate security, it is important to learn of your legal rights as soon as possible or your rights may be lost. If you believe that you may have a claim for inadequate security and want to discuss your claim with an attorney, please click here to speak with an attorney at the Katz law firm for a free, private consultation.